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CONNECTED VEHICLES Opinion piece


What are we waiting for? I


Actions public agencies can take now to use connected vehicles, by Shelley Row


t was hot and sunny on the third day of the Tour de France. With high expectations, we left early for the long drive to a remote hillside near Gap, France. We arrived


by noon to claim our patch of steamy pavement on the Tour route. And we waited…and waited…and waited. Hours later the advance cars passed, bike frames crowning the rooftops. Next came sponsors’ cars shaped like gum, hot dogs, and tires. It is hype for the racers and sponsors; big business. Again, we waited. Then, the sound of whirring helicopter blades overhead, following the riders. Cheers proclaimed the small group of leaders. We stood, then…zip, zip, gone. We sat again to wait for the next group of riders yet to come – the peloton. In transportation, talk of connected cars and the hype


about driverless cars has been approaching for years. But now, connected vehicles using cellular technology are here and changing how we experience transportation. It is big business and the race is on to capture the market. GM is installing 4G connections in their cars. We’re inundated with apps for traffic, parking and transit, and in a few months we’ll know the fate of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC). As the connected vehicle race heats up, what’s a local and


state department of transportation (DOT) to do? How do you take advantage of connected vehicles today and prepare for the future?


CONNECTING THE DOTs Public agency decision-makers live in a difficult environ- ment. They have big responsibilities and limited financial resources. They have scarce time to chart a course for the future while navigating the sea monsters of the present. They need to fulfill their mission economically and take advantage of technology while minimizing risk. And, it all takes place while everyone is watching. What do you start doing and what do you stop? A good place to start is with agency goals. Public agency


DOTs are responsible for 1) managing, maintaining, building and operating the transportation network, 2) improving trans- portation safety and 3) enabling travelers to effectively interact with transportation services. How can an agency use con- nected vehicles to further these goals? Here are five strategies: • Plan by analyzing data and information needs; • Provide data for operation and traveler information;


34 thinkinghighways.com Vol 8 No 3 North America


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